Petersfield Town began their first-ever Evostik Southern League campaign with a hard-earned 1-1 draw at AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
After a goalless first half Stuart Green put the Rams ahead with a far post header.
The visitors came under a lot of pressure and it was no surprise when Diamonds snatched a 77th-minute equaliser.
Rams manager Ian Saunders said: ‘It was every bit as tough as we thought it would be.
‘I am happy to come away from our first game at this level with a good point away from home.
‘It’s the second longest trip we have to do and it took us longer to get there than anticipated.
‘The M25 was in its usual car park status.
‘Once we got started Rushden showed just why they are favourites to win our league with good quality all over the pitch.
‘But we have achieved what we have in the last couple of years because of our battling qualities and we showed them again.
‘They put us under a lot of pressure at times in front of nearly 600 people but we didn’t buckle.
‘Our defence was magnificent and we created a few half-chances on the break.’
The Petersfield goal arrived when Jason Silver crossed from the left for the unmarked Green to nod home.
Goalkeeper Matt Short then kept the Rams ahead with a series of good saves but the pressure eventually told as the home side sent a long throw into the area where the ball was glanced home for the equaliser.
It might have been late heartbreak for the Rams if the home side had been able to find the target with a glorious late chance.
But Saunders was proud of his troops.
He said: ‘I am extremely proud of the effort put in and the resilience.
‘In the last 15 minutes it was backs-to-the-wall stuff but we held out.
‘It was a decent day for us and we can take a lot of positives out of it.
‘If anyone had said to me before the game we could have a point I would have accepted it.’